Labrador is one of the most popular breeds in the modern world. It is an ideal pet for families with children, hunters, rescuers and people with disabilities.
- Breed name: Labrador Retriever
- Country of Origin: UK
- The time of the birth of the breed: XIX century
- Weight: males 27-34 kg, females 25-32 kg
- Height (height at the withers): males 56-57 cm, females 54-56 cm
- Life expectancy: 12-13 years
- Labrador Retriever refers to medium-large dogs.
- The main merit in the creation of the breed belongs to English enthusiasts.
- A Labrador can be kept in an apartment, but it requires long daily walks and sufficient physical activity.
- The dog was created to accompany hunting, so it does not have good security qualities, but it gets along well with children and animals.
- Breeders call the main problem of keeping food and weight control, since labradors are well–known food lovers.
- Labrador retrievers are well trained if you show patience and resourcefulness in the learning process.
- Dogs do not cause special problems in care, they are distinguished by good health.
- The breed standard today allows black, fawn and chocolate color.
Labrador has become so widespread thanks to a surprisingly successful combination of external data and "working" qualities that allow representatives of the breed to be not only companions in everyday life, but also to serve for the benefit of man. They regularly get to the top of the ratings of the "most loyal", "most obedient", "most hardworking" dogs according to professional breeders and ordinary owners.
History of the Labrador Retriever breed
Whatever geographical associations you may have, researchers do not find a direct connection between Labradors and the North American peninsula of the same name. Historically reliable is the version that the ancestors of Labradors arrived in England from the island of Newfoundland, located south-east and now part of the youngest Canadian province.
Different theories explain the origin of the breed name. According to one, the original color (exclusively black) resembled the igneous rock lying in their homeland – labradorite. Supporters of the other claim that the Europeans, who were not particularly versed in the subtleties of the toponymy of the New World, considered such a name successful for animals that arrived by ship from the shores of the Labrador Sea. It is likely that there was an elementary need to distinguish between a new breed and a well-known British breeders of the XIX century longhair newfoundland . However, there is an opinion that both breeds appeared in England at about the same time and as a result of confusion, the "natives" from Labrador were named after the neighboring island and vice versa.
By the way, it is assumed that the progenitor of the shaggy giants of the Newfoundlands was closely related to the ancestor of the Labradors - the St. John's water dog. It is not possible to study the origin of the Water Dog St. John's itself over the years, but experts admit that it was the result of crossing a large number of breeds that, together with their owners, have been in North America since the Great Geographical Discoveries.
The first European explorers of the modern coast of Canada were Portuguese navigators, and it is likely that their efforts brought here the can-diagua – Portuguese water dogs, bred in the Middle Ages to facilitate the life of sailors. They performed the functions of postal couriers between the ships of fishing fleets, delivered messages to the shore, pulled out things that were overboard and even helped to drive shoals of cod into the nets. St. John's dogs also felt great on the big water and were used by Canadians to search and rescue shipwreck victims. A number of short-sighted restrictive laws and exorbitantly high taxes for dog owners led to a reduction in the number of animals, and then to their disappearance. The last representatives of this breed died in the XX century, but its genes live in golden retrievers , labradors, chesapeake Bay retrievers, straight-haired retrievers.
The first Labradors came to Europe on merchant ships. For a long time, strong economic ties have been established between Newfoundland and England, here Canadians sold cod caught in the Atlantic. The British, passionate lovers of hunting, immediately drew attention to the mobile and easily trainable companions of the sailors. In the XIX century, the import of "small Newfoundland dogs" began. The name of the breed adopted today appeared only in the 1870s. At the same time, the influx of overseas "fresh blood" began to dry up, and in 1895 a Quarantine Act was adopted that banned the import of animals without a license and a six-month quarantine. Since then, the breed has developed virtually exclusively through internal selection.
The first breeders of Labradors independently became two noble families – the Counts of Malmesbury and the Dukes of Buccleuch. Nurseries located in Hampshire and Scotland, respectively, contributed to the popularization of the breed among local aristocrats. It turned out that shorthair workers from the island of Newfoundland are ideal companions for hunting birds and small game. With proper upbringing, amazing abilities to find and apport prey shot by the owner were added to endurance and meek disposition. Good exhibition qualities later contributed to the success of Labradors.
For several decades there was confusion with the definition of belonging to a particular breed. It happened that even puppies from the same litter were classified in the documents as different "branches" of retrievers. However, already in 1903, Labradors were officially recognized by the world's oldest kennel club, the English Kennel. This caused another surge of interest and led to the creation of several new nurseries. In 1916, the Labrador Retriever Club was founded – an organization that still functions today, taking care of maintaining the purity of the lines.
During the First World War, Labradors crossed the ocean again. In the USA, they quickly gained popularity, the so-called American type was gradually formed, regarding which there are still disputes among specialists.
For a long time, the only acceptable color of the animal was considered black, the rest of the puppies were culled. In 1899, a fawn was first registered, and in 1930 – a chocolate labrador retriever.
Video: Labrador Retriever
Appearance of labradors
Most reputable breeders are guided by the standard of the International Cynological Organization (FCI), the new version of which was adopted in January 2011.
Strong build, compact, very active.
Well balanced, not too massive or thin-boned. The skull is wide, the muzzle without large cheeks. The transition from the main part of the head to the muzzle is clearly expressed. The nose is wide, with well-defined nostrils. Jaws of medium length, strong. The Labrador's teeth are set vertically in the jaw, the bite is perfect and scissor-like (the upper incisors completely overlap the lower ones). Medium-sized eyes, brown or hazel, express intelligence and good character. The ears are not wide and not heavy, hanging, adjacent to the head and planted far behind.
Clean lines, powerful and strong.
Straight, horizontal top line. Wide, short and strong loin. The thorax is wide and deep, with well-arched ribs.
With good bones, straight from the elbow to the ground. The shoulder is long and oblique. Long blades with an angle of inclination that provides a wide step (90-105 °). Paws are round, compact, with well-developed pads and arched toes.
Well developed, with no inclination of the croup to the tail. Knees with good angles (110° provide a structure ideal for normal movement of the back of the trunk). The hock joint is located low. The structure of the paws is similar to the forelimbs.
The tail of the Labrador is very thick at the base, gradually tapering towards the end – a characteristic "otter" shape. The length is average. Without suspension, but covered on all sides with short, thick, dense hair. It keeps low, at the level of the top line, never bends on its back.
Free, productive. Straight and parallel fore and hind limbs.
The coat of the Labrador is short, thick, without waves and feathering, hard to the touch. The undercoat is thick and protects from the weather.
Labradors have monophonic colors: black, fawn or brown (liver, chocolate). Fawn from light cream to fox-red. A small white spot is acceptable on the chest.
The ideal height at the withers for males is 56-57 cm, for females 54-56 cm. Recently, many individuals have appeared in Europe, whose height reaches only 50 cm. This trend is of serious concern to specialists. The weight of labradors is not regulated by the standard, but the preferred range for males is 29-36 kg, for females – 25-32 kg.
It must be remembered that outwardly Labradors differ not only in unofficial types (English or American; old, classic, heavy, modern and others), but also depending on whether you have a show dog intended for exhibitions and performances, or "working". The former are heavier and have shorter legs, while the latter are built athletically.
Photo of an adult labrador
The character of the Labrador Retriever
It is difficult to find a dog with a lighter and more accommodating character than a Labrador retriever. They are incredibly friendly and try to please a person in any situation. Aggression is absolutely not peculiar to them, so there will be no problems with living in a house where there are other animals (including cats) and children of any age.
The reverse side of such a mild disposition can only be called poorly developed security qualities. You should not expect that the Labrador will fight back against robbers – everyone who comes to its territory is perceived by default as a new playmate, but in case of a direct threat to the owners from people or "foreign" dogs, he will definitely stand up for protection.
Labrador retrievers make excellent guides for the visually impaired, therapists for autistic people and assistants for people with disabilities. In addition, they are often used as service dogs during rescue operations (in particular, on the water), and a sharp nose helps in the search for explosives and drugs.
For generations, the instinct of friendly dogs has been laid in them – to find and bring the shot game to the owner. If hunting is not one of your hobbies, for the happiness of the dog it is enough to regularly apport balls and sticks thrown away. This is a great entertainment and workout that allows you to burn calories.
Education and training
Labradors are incredibly mobile and cheerful creatures, even in adulthood they adore active games. High intelligence and calm character open up wide opportunities for training. At the same time, it is not recommended to show excessive rigidity. You should be persistent, but patient, do not forget about encouragement (both verbal and with the help of treats) and do not allow boring, monotonous activities in which the pet inevitably loses interest in the process.
Early socialization is extremely important so that your dog does not experience stress when in contact with the outside world, other people, animals, and also firmly learns acceptable norms of behavior in various life situations. Owners of labradors who do not have experience in raising large dogs, it is better to seek help from professional dog handlers and take a few lessons or complete a full course of training.
Care and maintenance
The main commandment of the owner of the Labrador retriever from the first days should be the principle of moderation in food. The fact is that these dogs are prone to overeating, which leads to obesity and very serious health problems. To avoid trouble, teach your dog to a strict diet, monitor the volume of portions, do not allow the excess of "lunch" to remain in the bowl, do not get carried away with dog treats and, of course, do not treat your pet with pieces from the common table – salted, smoked and sweet food. If you prefer natural nutrition, coordinate the menu with your doctor and do not forget about vitamin and mineral supplements. When choosing a ready-made feed, focus on the products of proven brands from the upper price segment. With any type of food, the dog should have constant access to fresh drinking water.
As already mentioned, labradors are very active, regular physical activity is not just desirable for them, but is a prerequisite for normal well-being and psychological state. Get ready for long walks – experienced breeders advise spending half an hour on them in the morning and at least two hours in the evening. In this case, the dog will not get bored, gain extra weight and pester you with pranks in the apartment.
Labrador care will not require any extra effort. Basically, we are talking about standard procedures:
- combing – daily during the period of active molting, which occurs twice a year, and once or twice a week the rest of the time, it is recommended to use a special hard brush;
- washing – under normal conditions, it is enough to do it once every two months, with the help of the means recommended by the veterinarian. Frequent water procedures negatively affect the condition of the coat and skin, as well as immunity;
- teeth cleaning – regularly, with a special paste for dogs;
- ear care – in order to avoid infections, it is necessary to systematically inspect the ears and remove dirt with a cotton swab.
It is important, of course, to closely monitor your pet and not postpone a visit to the veterinarian if signs of ill health or atypical behavior are noticed.
Health and diseases of Labrador
In general, Labrador retrievers can be called fairly healthy dogs, although any purebred animals, due to the limited choice of lines, have a predisposition to certain genetic diseases. From birth or with age, some individuals may develop autoimmune diseases or deafness.
But in most cases, before the onset of old age, visits to the clinic will be episodic. Puppies need to be vaccinated regularly, if this has not been done by the breeder. Provided decent care and proper nutrition, the average life expectancy of representatives of this breed is 10-12 years. As with other large dogs, the Achilles heel of Labradors is the musculoskeletal system, the most common disease veterinarians call hip dysplasia. Cases of cataracts, retinal atrophy and corneal dystrophy are not uncommon.
But the main source of danger to the dog's health is obesity due to an insatiable appetite, which has already been mentioned above. This factor affects the duration and quality of life of the pet, as it inevitably leads to the development of diabetes, eye diseases, diseases of the musculoskeletal system. A controlled diet and sufficient physical activity will help your pet stay active and healthy longer.
How to choose a puppy
The popularity of the breed is not always an advantage for those who have decided to get a Labrador retriever. In pursuit of profit, unscrupulous breeders keep parents and puppies in inappropriate conditions. Of course, unsanitary conditions, crowding and improper nutrition adversely affect the formation of a growing organism and health in the future, so the first advice is: do not try to save money and contact only nurseries with a good reputation, where you can see the future pet with your own eyes, get acquainted with the documents about the pedigree, get reliable information about vaccinations.
When choosing a Labrador, pay attention to compliance with the external characteristics of the breed, observe the behavior of the baby – he should be playful, active and easy to contact. An important sign of well-being is a healthy shine of the coat, clean eyes and ears, and a normal appetite.
Photos of Labrador puppies
How much does a Labrador retriever cost
The most affordable offers are puppies "with hands", without documents and pedigree, but once again we remind you: so you risk becoming the owner of a dog with poor health or completely deprived of the "branded" qualities of a Labrador due to the admixture of unknown genes.
A labrador puppy from the kennel stands within $500 – $800. In this case, you will receive a pet with documents, you will be able to participate in exhibitions and hope for prizes. The kids of the show class, whose parents can boast of numerous medals, will cost a little more.